Some people launder money. Other people launder cattle.

“year after year, satellites that monitor changes in forest cover find the same thing: The Amazon is shrinking. Between August 1, 2018, and July 31, 2021, more than 34,000 square km (8.4 million acres) disappeared from the Brazilian Amazon. That’s an area larger than the entire nation of Belgium, and a 52 percent increase compared to the previous three years.”

“In a cattle laundering scheme, ranchers move cattle from “dirty” ranches, which contribute to deforestation, to ranches that are “clean,” with no recent forest loss. By the time those cattle arrive at slaughterhouses, the path they’ve taken is obscured, as is the damage they’ve caused.”

“Most major meatpackers and slaughterhouses — which influence the entire beef supply chain — screen the cattle they buy for deforestation. Ranchers that sell to them, known as direct suppliers, provide the location of their farms. And the meatpacking companies hire consultants to check those locations for any recent forest loss, using data collected by satellites.
But this screening process misses a lot — perhaps even the majority of deforestation in the beef supply chain — undermining the integrity of their zero-deforestation pledges.”

“according to decade-old agreements, major meatpackers in Brazil can only buy clean cattle: cows that come from land without any recent deforestation. The problem is, there are several ways to make cattle look clean, even when they’re not.

The most common way is pretty simple and takes advantage of the complex beef supply chain. A single cow could travel through as many as 10 farms before it’s ultimately killed; it might be born on one, reared on another, and fattened on a third, all before reaching a slaughterhouse.”

“slaughterhouses only tend to assess their direct suppliers, the last stop on the cow’s journey.”

“If small teams of outside researchers can pinpoint the source of forest loss along supply chains, it seems as though giant corporations should be able to as well. Remember, it has been more than 10 years since they committed to source clean cattle.

While some experts fault meatpackers for not doing more, rooting out forest loss among indirect suppliers is actually quite challenging. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, who first figured out how to do this, spent years developing computer programs to download records stored in clunky government systems. They then have to clean them up, link key bits of data together, and run the analysis.

These records are not designed to make cattle supply chains traceable, they just happen to serve that function if you know what you’re doing. “It requires a lot of computational expertise,” Brandão said. It’s not like meatpacking companies are just ignoring deforestation right in front of their eyes.”

“there isn’t a huge incentive for meatpacking companies to solve this problem in the first place, some experts say. If they choose not to buy from any ranches linked to deforestation, they’ll have a much smaller supply”

“Ultimately, to put an end to cattle laundering, meat companies would need to monitor the movement of individual cows, Gibbs said. “If we wanted to end laundering, we would need animal-level traceability,” Gibbs said. “Until we keep track of the individual animals, some level of laundering will keep happening.””

With Lula’s Win in Brazil, the Left Dominates Latin America

“With Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva’s narrow victory over president Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil—the two-time former president defeated the incumbent by a 1.8 percent margin (50.9 to 49.1)—the Latin American left has completed its strategic dominance over the region’s seven largest countries.
In the 2000s, much was made of Latin America’s so-called “Pink Tide,” which began with Hugo Chávez’s first electoral victory in Venezuela (1998) and da Silva’s first term in Brazil (2002–2006). There followed an unprecedented rise of left-wing governments across the region. However, there were still important holdouts at the time; Mexico and Colombia didn’t veer left at all; Chile maintained its post-Pinochet social democracy; Peru’s original “Pink Tider,” Ollanta Humala, initially scared the markets in 2011 but proved to be mostly moderate in power.

By late 2022, however, hard leftists—often in cahoots with local communist parties—had handily won the last elections in each of these countries and in Argentina, which returned to Peronist Kirchnerism in 2019. Bolsonaro was the last right-winger standing”

Bolsonaro finally speaks — but doesn’t concede the election

“Brazilian president Jaír Bolsonaro finally spoke to the country on Tuesday — almost 48 hours after losing the presidential runoff election to political rival and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva”

“the close results of the election — the tightest since Brazil’s transition to a democracy in 1984-1985 — make it clear that two Brazils likely do exist. Bolsonaro may have lost, but Bolsonarismo and the right-wing movement he created have become a more deeply rooted political phenomenon, said Pagliarini.
The election results, if anything, show the strength of the right wing in Brazil — which still had electoral success in 2022, and may see this election as a future to build on, one that transcends Bolsonaro himself. “If and when Bolsonaro leaves the stage, his presence will be felt for years to come, not just in elected office,” Pagliarini said.”

Jair Bolsonaro is facing a political reckoning in Brazil. How far will it go?

“Brazil’s coronavirus situation is dire, but it’s not surprising given that Bolsonaro downplayed the pandemic from the beginning.

He called it the “little flu.” He shrugged at the country’s mounting death toll by saying “we’ll all die one day.” He undermined governors’ attempts to enforce social distancing and other measures, insisting economies reopen. He used a homophobic slur to refer to those who wore masks. He has continued to tout the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and other unproven drugs as coronavirus cures.

When it comes to Covid-19 vaccinations, Bolsonaro has sowed misinformation and doubt. In December, he said of possible side effects on the Pfizer vaccine, “If you turn into a crocodile, it’s your problem.” He strongly criticized Chinese-made vaccines, including bashing his own government’s deal to acquire the CoronaVac vaccine. “The Brazilian people WON’T BE ANYONE’S GUINEA PIG,” he wrote on social media last year. Ultimately, Bolsonaro had to backtrack early this year and thank China for fast-tracking the vaccine, as Brazil faced a deadly wave of the pandemic, with few vaccines available.”

“The thing standing in the way is the Centrão (Big Center), a bloc of centrist voting parties in Brazil’s Congress. Bolsonaro has basically had to build alliances with these members of Congress, who agree to work with Bolsonaro in exchange for the president basically giving them what they want.

“Bolsonaro has actually gotten pretty good at handing out goodies — like pork-barrel projects — for the members of Congress to bring home the bacon and show their voters that they’re doing their job,” said David Samuels, distinguished McKnight University professor of political science at the University of Minnesota. “And so they’re also happy to see Bolsonaro twist in the wind as long as he keeps the spigots of money going.”

Experts said it’s going to take a lot for them to basically turn their back on those goodies — whether they’re cushy jobs or beneficial projects. An investigation by the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo found that Bolsonaro’s government set aside about 20 billion reais ($3.9 billion) for what are basically pork projects.

“The question for impeachment becomes this: Does popular will and senatorial and deputy outrage turn to the point where enough are willing to abandon that sort of legislative sway over the national political agenda for the sake of impeachment?” Snider of the University of Texas said.

Right now, the answer looks like a big “no.””

Why Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro joined a protest calling for a military coup

“In a head-spinning political maneuver, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro joined demonstrations held in Brasilia on Sunday to protest coronavirus-related lockdowns and to call for a military coup.
Political observers say the protesters were right-wing Bolsonaro supporters who called for military intervention on behalf of the president because they view the country’s supreme court and legislature as obstacles to his campaign against pandemic lockdown measures, despite the fact that the country has more than 35,000 confirmed cases and over 2,300 deaths as of April 19.

“Now it is the people in power. It’s more than your right — it’s your obligation to fight for your country,” Bolsonaro said, standing on a pickup truck outside the Army headquarters. “We don’t want to negotiate anything. We want action for Brazil.”

Political commentators say it’s unlikely that Bolsonaro literally hoped to foment a coup with his incendiary remarks outside the Army headquarters, but rather saw the protest as an opportunity to mobilize his political base. The president has become increasingly isolated politically due to his resistance to approaching the pandemic in accordance with medical and scientific advice, and clashes with politicians issuing quarantine orders at the state level.”

“Bolsonaro has consistently downplayed the virus, calling it a “little flu” and arguing that Brazilians are well-suited for it because they can be dunked in sewage and “don’t catch a thing.” The president has also frequently defied social distancing guidelines from his own administration, and has opposed lockdowns initiated by governors of states, accusing them of exploiting the pandemic for political gain.”

These 3 supertrees can protect us from climate collapse

“As more trees are cut down, there will be more frequent droughts, endangering food and water supplies, and livelihoods for millions of people.

That’s why giants like Brazil nut trees are so vitally important. Their ability to produce rain that feeds and cools the rest of the Amazon — and the region — is a true superpower.”

“Our current climate crisis is a result of humans putting too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Luckily, trees (and other natural systems) can remove and store some of that carbon. The stilt mangrove is unusually good at this task.”

“It’s why preserving and restoring mangroves is being hailed as a promising “negative emissions technology.””